Elizabeth Smart says she was sexually assaulted on a plane

Feb 6, 2020, 7:19 AM | Updated: 7:21 am

Elizabeth Smart has revealed she was sexually assaulted on an airline flight last year.

She’s talking about it publicly for the first time, telling CBS This Morning she was asleep on the plane on the way back to Salt Lake City when she was jerked awake when she felt a man touching her.

“I felt someone’s hand rubbing in between my legs on my inner thigh,” said Smart.

Smart is a kidnapping and sexual assault survivor. She travels the nation to help other women overcome abuse. Yet she was not prepared for what happened.

“I was shocked. The last time someone touched me without my say so, was when I was kidnapped. I froze. I did not know what to do,” she said. “I kept saying to myself, you’re Elizabeth Smart, you should know what to do.”

She said the man didn’t even apologize or give a reason why he was touching her. She told Delta. She says she knows it was not the airline’s fault, it was the man’s fault.

Delta immediately offered to help, and the investigation has been turned over to the FBI.

“I don’t want him to be preying on other girls,” she said.

Her husband suggested she work with a family friend trained in self-defense. It made her realize she’s not doing enough. So she created a self-defense class for women and girls, to give them the tools they need to protect themselves. They call it Smart Defense.

Smart told CBS she believes she might have had the confidence to attempt to escape her kidnappers when she was 14, if she’d had the physical training her class teaches.

The most recent data from the FBI shows sexual assaults on planes are on the rise.

In fiscal year 2014, 38 cases of in-flight sexual assault were reported to the FBI. In the 2017 fiscal year, that number increased to 63, the New York Times reported.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team. here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Utah Department of Public Safety pilot Luke Bowman talks with media about the mission to rescue peo...
Mark Jones

Pilot says Thursday’s DNR helicopter crash could have been worse

A helicopter crash Thursday in the La Sal mountains could have been worse, according to the chief pilot at Utah's Department of Public Safety Aero-Bureau.
1 day ago
A Unified police vehicle is pictured in Kearns on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. 
Unified Police issued an...
Mark Jones

Child found minutes after AMBER Alert issued, suspect still outstanding

SALT LAKE CITY — Unified Police say the child who was the focus of an AMBER Alert issued Friday night was found minutes after the alert was issued. However, police say the suspect is still outstanding, and is armed with a knife. Police say the suspect, Jonathan Moises Wuanloxten Hidalgo, is 5-feet-8-inches and 180 pounds […]
1 day ago
Kane County...
Mark Jones

Man arrested for alleged theft of large amount of diesel fuel

A man is in custody following the discovery of a large amount of diesel fuel that had been stolen from two service stations in southern Utah.
1 day ago
Gov. Cox Ukraine State of the Union...
Mark Jones

Cox announces full recommendations for fiscal year 2024 budget

The full recommendations for the fiscal year 2024 budget were announced Friday by Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson.
1 day ago
Salt Lake City Police took a 44-year-old man into custody on Wednesday in connection to the burglar...
KSL NewsRadio staff writer

S.L. County D.A. declines to charge two officers in shooting, arrest

An ICE agent and Herriman City police detective were the subjects in D.A. Sim Gill's investigation. Gill will charge neither of the officers.
1 day ago
Screen shot....
Mark Jones

Two-vehicle crash on westbound I-80 creates heavy delays

Traffic has come to a near stop on westbound I-80 Friday evening due to a traffic accident.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Elizabeth Smart says she was sexually assaulted on a plane